Ask Matt: Yay or Nay on ‘Lincoln,’ Déjà Vu on ‘Tommy,’ ‘Picard,’ Midseason Shuffle & More
Welcome to the Q&A with TV critic (also known to some TV fans as their “TV therapist”) Matt Roush, who’ll try to address whatever you love, loathe, are confused or frustrated or thrilled by in today’s vast TV landscape.
One caution: This is a spoiler-free zone, so we won’t be addressing upcoming storylines here unless it’s already common knowledge. Please send your questions and comments to [email protected] (or use the form at the end of the column) and follow me on Twitter. Look for Ask Matt columns on most Tuesdays and Fridays.
Lincoln Rhyme: Love Him or Hate Him
Question: I am so impressed with NBC’s consistently riveting Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector. Not only do I enjoy the serialized portion of the crime drama (featuring The Bone Collector) but also the cases each week. The acting and writing are above par for the genre and it may be my favorite show of this crowded genre. The ratings are dreadful even for Friday and I don’t see NBC renewing it. But it would have been more beneficial for the show to be promoted better. It never received a decent sized sampling when the pilot aired on a Friday. Ratings are remarkably steady which means the few viewers that are watching are sticking around. I won’t hold any hope for a renewal, but I am rooting for it! — Fred
Matt Roush: You’re probably wise to take the “enjoy it while you can” attitude and not get overly attached, given the scheduling and overall low profile of a show that probably deserved a bigger build-up, given the popularity of Jeffery Deaver’s book series (14 novels and counting). I wonder if they shouldn’t have focused so much of the season on the storyline of the first book, which was already filmed in 1999.
Question: Has anybody involved with the Lincoln Rhyme show ever read any of the books? This show is so far removed from the books, it was really hard to watch. How does his nurse pick him up to put him in the wheelchair? In the books, he has a male nurse. He’s also grumpy most of the time. I can’t watch it. — Linda B
Matt Roush: I generally don’t expect adaptations to stay letter-perfect to the source material, especially when they’re building a series around a set of procedural novels. (On Amazon Prime Video’s Bosch, the closest equivalent, I like the way they’ve updated his story, moved forward his relationship with his daughter and ex, and cherry-picked among the plots of Michael Connelly’s various books. I now find I can’t read a new Bosch book without picturing Titus Welliver.) Can’t say why the Lincoln Rhyme producers decided to replace his caregiver Thom — one of the most entertaining side characters in the books — with Claire. (Maybe because Queen Latifah was cast in a similar function in the movie version?) But the Lincoln Rhyme I know from Deaver’s books is notoriously irascible and hard to work with — ergo, his close association with Amelia — so the grumpy part seems to scan with the original conception of the character.
A Tommy Lookalike, and Her Backstory
Question: Surely it has been mentioned that in the first episode of CBS’s Tommy, the “Officer Reed” character (played by Pete Ploszek), who saved the ICE-targeted immigrant, looked like a ringer for Officer Reed (Kent McCord) from the old Adam-12 series (1968-1975). In Tommy, the character even had the first name “Adam,” according to IMDB, though I don’t recall hearing it on the show. When he stepped out from the patrol car, I couldn’t believe my eyes! — Tom
Matt Roush: And what good eyes you have! I didn’t make the connection, but when I looked again, you’re right: dead ringer. I don’t know if it was intentional, and this doesn’t appear to be a recurring character, but I love how memories of TV cop classics can resonate over the decades.
Question: I taped Tommy and it’s all about the first female Chief of Police. But please explain to me why they made her a lesbian. — Julie
Matt Roush: They didn’t make her a lesbian. She just is.
Which brings to mind a recommendation for a terrific docuseries launching Friday on Apple TV+: Visible: Out on Television. This five-part series is a thorough and impassioned history of the long road toward humanization of LGBTQ characters on TV, in entertainment and in news coverage, from when they were mostly punchlines or victims, villains or suicides to the more inclusive treatment today — though not blind to the backlash that inevitably ensues. (Ellen DeGeneres‘ comeback story is especially relevant.) A quote from Oprah Winfrey sums up the gist of this terrific series: “When you see images that are reflective of your own life, it’s a reminder to you that your life matters.” I wish Visible was going more visible on a wider platform, because I’d love everyone to be able to see it, and perhaps it would open some minds and hearts.
With Picard, The More the Merrier
Question: With each season of Star Trek: Picard being 10 episodes each, why didn’t CBS just order one full season, divide it in two and just before it premiered announce the second half as a new order just to hype it as a success? — Unsigned
Matt Roush: It was so obvious already that Picard would succeed that they didn’t need to create this sort of stunt. From a more practical perspective, giving the show an early second-season renewal instead of ordering a 20-episode season gives the writers and producers time to think and plan ahead, while not having to grind out episodes on the proverbial assembly line. Giving everyone a break between shorter seasons will likely benefit the overall quality in the long run.
Matt Roush: We’ve addressed this before, but now that MacGyver has joined the lineup while Magnum goes on hiatus, it has become a Frequently Asked Question again — which is inevitable, given the confusion that tends to set in during the midseason when established shows are pulled off temporarily to give another show a shot. In this particular case, the CBS procedurals are sharing time periods, which is becoming increasingly common as well as the networks try to keep their lineups fresh. The game plan here is for Magnum to return to the Friday schedule when MacGyver finishes its midseason run.
Matt Roush: Same situation with 9-1-1, which is taking a break to give the spinoff a tryout. The original will return to Mondays sometime this spring when Lone Star wraps. As for Bluff City Law: It was produced in-house, so it’s unlikely the show would be shopped around after only 10 episodes aired. Though it’s not officially canceled until NBC announces its next fall schedule in May, it would be a true surprise if this series returned on NBC or anywhere.
Good Intentions, or a Misstep?
Question: I’m a fan of American Housewife and keep it programmed in my “To Be Recorded” list of programs on my DVR. However, I’ve been somewhat troubled with the Teen Helpline story that has been highlighted in the last two episodes. In the first episode, Oliver has made it his personal mission to discover the identity of a fellow student who has called into the line for help. In the first part of the story, the focus was on teen suicide. The next episode focused on the teen not being suicidal, but gay, and then later, upset to learn that his anonymity has been compromised by Oliver. Each topic was handled by Oliver and his best bro trying various shenanigans to befriend the teen in order to help him. The poor kid’s privacy has been totally violated. Why has the program decided to make a Teen Helpline into a running joke? Even the best comedies can take a serious note. American Housewife has missed out on a chance to show the positive benefits of services that provide teens with help and guidance. — Dan
Matt Roush: I don’t follow this show (not a fan), but what I gather from the way the storyline was promoted, Oliver had the best of motives in reaching out to his peer, though as good intentions often do, it backfired. I doubt the intent was to demean the Teen Helpline as the butt of the joke but to emphasize how tricky it can be to handle situations like this and preserve someone’s privacy in the process. I’m hoping a life lesson was learned along the way — that’s how most family sitcoms work — and maybe the show will come back to this storyline with a more positive resolution.
That’s all for now—and until next week because of the holiday weekend. Thanks as always for reading, and remember that I can’t do this without your participation, so please keep sending questions and comments about TV to [email protected] or shoot me a line on Twitter (@TVGMMattRoush), and you can also submit questions via the handy form below. Please include a first name with your question